By Amanda Leonard || Contributing Writer
During the one hour and fifty-nine minute run-time of this movie, all of my wigs flew.
A Simple Favor stars Anna Kendrick as Stephanie, a hands-on and enthusiastic single mom who runs a “mommy blog.” She meets Emily (Blake Lively) at her first-grade son Miles’ school. The two quickly become best friends, and just a few weeks later she puts all of that enthusiasm into uncovering the truth behind Emily’s sudden disappearance. Emily asks Stephanie to do “a simple favor” by watching her son Nicky… and she never returns. Stephanie then has to deal with becoming a quasi “second-mom” to Nicky, the law enforcement questioning Emily’s seemingly nice husband Sean and discovering that she didn’t know nearly as much about Emily as she thought she did.
One of the things most appreciated about this film was that the plot seamlessly blends genres together. Its subject matter lends itself to being a drama/thriller, but at other times you’ll be dying laughing or gritting your teeth and covering your eyes. It’s exciting, funny, dramatic, shocking, cringey and thought-provoking all at the same time. And let me tell you, there are some major twists and turns that will come out of nowhere, shake everything up and snatch all of the audience members’ wigs.
Additionally, the dynamic between Lively and Kendrick’s characters stands out from the very beginning of the film. The two women seem to be an extremely unlikely pair at first, with Stephanie being a single stay-at-home mom and Emily having a high-power career and rebellious nature. Watching their relationship go from a semi-awkward playdate encounter between two school parents into a full-fledged power duo in just the first twenty minutes is a real treat.
Each actress pulls off her respective character’s personalities and quirks extremely well, all while interacting with each other in a way that feels organic and relatable. Their initial conversations really illustrate what it feels like to get to know someone with whom you’ll end up being really close. Without spoiling the film for those who have yet to see it, there is an instance when Stephanie discloses something pretty scandalous about her past that in turn debunks her perfect-mom image and allows her and Emily to relate to each other even more.
The film also has a stylish, edgy quality that’s almost The Devil Wears Prada-esque, which gives it a really contemporary and fresh feel. What both Stephanie and Emily wear throughout the film does wonders for their characterizations and effectively highlights the contrast between both characters’ styles and personalities. The added aspect of Stephanie’s updates about the case on her blog adds to this feel and brings up the question of what is “too much” when it comes to sharing online. It’s also very visually pleasing and definitely does not miss the mark on lighting, cinematography or set design. In fact, I think I’m going to be dreaming about living in Emily’s amazing ultramodern house with a GIANT kitchen, floor to ceiling windows and a woods-y backyard until the end of time.
While I found the dialogue to be a bit cliché at times, and the parts that were supposed to evoke emotion didn’t always make the mark for me, this is overall a really fun movie with an exciting plot and great acting that captured my attention the entire time. Do yourself a “favor” and go see it in theaters!
First-year Amanda Leonard is a contributing writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.